Body image is something that everyone struggles with. From ridiculously airbrushed girls that plaster the front of magazines to the beautiful actresses that are choose for all the major roles in movies, we are presented with a false idea of what the perfect women should look like; large breasts, skinny waistline, flawless features and a beautiful face. When we look into the mirror it is difficult to not compare what we see to what society tells us we should look like. This is a major problem in our society. It leads to low self esteem, poor body image and damaging psychological conditions.
Growing up, I was pretty lucky to be sheltered from the ideal body image. I was encouraged to be a beautiful person inside and that would reflect outwardly towards the world. It wasn’t until I was teenager and my body began changing and developing that I began comparing myself to others. The results were minimal observations and didn’t leave me scared. When I entered my 20’s, I was excited to be past the body image phase and move on to a phase of loving my body.
A beautiful pregnancy body
When I was 26, I had my first child. I absolutely loved being pregnant and watching my body grow and expand to accommodate my growing child. I embraced these changes rather then being discouraged by them. After I gave birth, I was shocked to find that my body didn’t bounce right back to its pre-baby shape. Still, the love of the tiny infant that was completely dependent on me, distracted me from the shape of my body. Two years later, I watched the same miracles take place on my body as I carried my second child. Post labour was better and I was able to achieve my pre-baby shape easier then first. (I think it had to do with chasing a toddler while caring for a newborn!) Although my body remained in tack, I did obtain a condition called Hashimoto’s disease. It is a hypo thyroid condition that would require medication to regulate, but didn’t ‘scar’ my body on the outside so it was easy to accept.
In 2011, I gave birth to my third child. I had the same expectations as my first two pregnancies, but was given a surprise I wasn’t prepared for. As my third baby grew, I noticed my skin tighten and stretch. It wasn’t long before the dreaded stretch mark made an appearance on my belly. I know many, many people have stretch marks whether it be from pregnancy, dramatic weight gain or weigh loss or other life changes, but these lines bothered me. I felt flawed.
Scarred for life
My vanity was put the test when I found out my DD was breach and I needed an emergency c-section to ensure her birth was safe. A c-section meant I would be sliced from hip to hip along the pubic line. The rush of the emergency left me little time to think of the scar that would be left on my body. Proud to hold a healthy baby girl, I thought little of the scar until my body began to heal months later. When I looked in the mirror, I would feel with an ugly scare ripping across my body. As time passed, I secretly hoped that the scar would fade or completely disappear, sadly aware this would never occur.
Coming to love my body
Now three years and three children later, I stare at my body in the mirror. It is no longer the beautiful body I grew up with, but replaced with a strangers body. My breasts are no longer perky and round but two size smaller, my waist a lot thicker, stretch marks line my breast and stomach and there is an ever-present scar leftover from my c-section. I felt fat, ugly and scarred. How could I possibly be attractive to my husband who fell in love with my 20 year old body?
After many down days and hundreds of conversations with husband about my body, it has taken me a long time to realize that my body is beautiful, lumps, bumps and all. These extra pounds and scars are not ugly but rather badges of honour. They are signs of my triumph ability to successfully grow three beautiful babies. The c-section scar is the sign of a mother’s fight for her child. It was a choice between life and death and I choose my daughters life despite the scars it would leave on me. My sagging breast show they were once filled with the gift of life and the ability to produce food for my children. My body is not that of a twenty year old. It is the body of a mother. One that I am slowly learning to cherish and love!